Just in case you’ve never heard of a gas turbine engine, without doubt you’ve seen them in use. Drive by a gas fired power plant or watch commercial jets and some helicopters streak across the sky, and you’ve seen a gas turbine engine in use. Even the M-1 Abrams tank has one.
In a gas turbine engine, a compressor draws air into the engine, pressurizes it and mixes it with fuel in a combustion chamber where it is burned at more than 2000 degrees F. The hot combustion expands the air creating high pressures which spins rotating blades on the turbine producing the power to do work.
Turbine engines are smaller than reciprocating engines of the same power, which is a real advantage (especially if you’re trying to get a plane off the ground).
Yet, there can be a problem with gas turbine engines. But it’s not so much about the turbine engine as it is with the fuel burned to run it. You see, turbine engines typically burn fuels contaminated with sulfur and when burned at high temperatures, those fuels give off sodium sulfate gas which is corrosive.
There is a saying that “rust never sleeps”. Rust is another name for iron oxide or the result of the oxidation that occurs when iron is exposed to oxygen and moisture. But the corrosion problem with the turbine blades in these photos isn’t rust or oxidation! This is sulfidation or sulfur corrosion.
Left unabated, the corrosion resulting from sulfidation on the gas turbine compressor blades can lead to lost efficiency and eventual blade failure in the turbine.
Specialized cleaning techniques used by Blackwell’s, Inc. removed substantial amounts of the corrosion on the gas turbine blades.
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